Martin Richard's Dad Speaks Directly To The Boston Bomber With A Powerful Message

In a federal courtroom in Boston Wednesday morning, victims of the Boston Marathon bombings directly addressed Dzhokhar Tsarnaev as he awaited his formal sentencing. Tsarnaev was convicted in April on all 30 counts against him, including charges of using and conspiring to use a weapon of mass destruction, for the attacks that killed three people and injured more than 250 others. The father of one of those slain victims, Bill Richard, delivered the most powerful words to Tsarnaev early in the hearing, telling the 21-year-old that he chose the wrong path that day in April 2013.

Martin Richard was standing on a small metal fence, looking out at the stream of runners making their way toward Copley Square, when Tsarnaev placed a backpack with a pressure-cooker explosive just several feet behind the 8-year-old from Dorchester, Massachusetts. Martin died almost instantly from his severe injuries; his sister Jane also lost a leg in the bombings, and his mother Denise endured several serious injuries.

The Richard family initially shied away from the media in the year following the marathon bombings, but in recent months they have become a source of peace despite their grave injuries and even graver loss. On Wednesday, Bill Richard looked Tsarnaev directly in the eye as he told the 21-year-old he could have kept his backpack on and "walked away with a minimal sense of humanity."

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But we know Tsarnaev didn't. "He chose to accompany his brother and participate in this hate," Bill Richard said. "He chose to do nothing to prevent all of this from happening. He chose hate. He chose destruction. This is all on him."

Yet the Richard family did not want Tsarnaev to face the death penalty, having called on the federal government to remove the possibility of the death penalty before the sentencing phase of the trial began in April. In an open letter to the Justice Department, and published in The Boston Globe, the family said the years of appeals — as is customary with death penalty sentences — would "prolong reliving the most painful day of our lives."

"For us, the story of Marathon Monday 2013 should not be defined by the actions or beliefs of the defendant, but by the resiliency of the human spirit and the rallying cries of this great city," the Richard family continued. "As long as the defendant is in the spotlight, we have no choice but to live a story told on his terms, not ours."

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On Wednesday, Bill Richard and his still-healing family perhaps lived their story the most when he said directly to Tsarnaev: "We chose kindness. We chose peace." He added to the courtroom, where many victims and their families had gathered, "That is what makes us different than him."

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